Selfies and the City
Turn urban sightseeing into a cool group activity by having attendees take selfies at landmark attractions. Even better, get them entrée into an exclusive club, restaurant, or hotel that will give them real bragging rights. Imagine them posing like Briggs NYC
colleagues Kaitlin McMurdo, Nicole Ruggiero, and Geoffrey Mergele (left to right, above) outside the exclusive Manhattan restaurant Butter, helmed by Alex Guarnaschelli.
Briggs, the New York–based destination and event management company, offers clients an activity that involves sending groups out with photographers to search for and capture the “Best New York Moment.” Skip the photog and go the selfie route, and you can take the participation level up a notch, add a social media twist, and create an activity with real reach and staying power: Scroll the selfies on a screen later in your program and watch attendees spread the love when they post the photos to their own Facebook and Instagram accounts.
The buzzword for meetings is “experiential.” And when your experience yields a meal or dessert, so much the better!
Companies providing corporate culinary experiences have exploded across the country, offering teambuilding versions of popular television shows like “Iron Chef,” “Chopped,” “Cupcake Wars” are on the rise. You can also keep the competition at a simmer and have everyone work together in a cooking class. New in 2014 at California-based DMC Brier & Dunn
is sushi-making. Participants work with an expert sushi chef, getting to know their nigiri from their maki—and sipping on saki.
Sustainability in the Skies
The airline industry has agreed on three targets intended to ensure a sustainable future:
• A 1.5 percent annual fuel efficiency improvement to 2020
• Capping net emissions through carbon-neutral growth beginning in 2020
• Cutting net emissions 50 percent (as compared to 2005) by 2050
Source: International Air Transport Association
Tell the Corporate Story
Only 35 percent of executives in a recent survey believe their employees are able to articulate the corporate culture to a great extent. Boost executives’ confidence that the workforce is engaged by using meetings to reinforce the corporate mission. Source: Korn Ferry online survey of more than 500 global executives
Book Free Meeting Space With this App
True, the free space might be no more than a table in a lobby alcove, but it’s just the tip of a conceptual iceberg: Marriott and Westin have partnered with Liquidspace
, using its mobile app and online booking tool to make small meeting spaces available on demand on an hourly or daily basis. These range from restaurant tables available free off-hours to high-end boardrooms available at an hourly rate. Marriott’s concept, Workspace on Demand, is currently available in more than 45 properties in Washington, D.C.; San Francisco; New York; Atlanta; Dallas; and other cities. (The Work Pod 1, at the Residence Inn Boston, is pictured above.) Westin’s initiative, called Tangent, involves dedicated rooms designed for 4 to 6 people and is operating at some 50 hotels worldwide.
Check a Bag or Carry On ... How About Neither?
White-glove service on a budget is what LugLess founder Brian Altomare is aiming for with his luggage delivery service. At prices cheaper than UPS or FedEx, LugLess
will pick up your bag and deliver it to your hotel and back again, saving you fees and hassles at the airport.
Schedule your pickup online, get your tags in the mail, and you’re all set. You don’t have to be home, and you don’t have to enclose your bag in any other packaging. The service is available in 50 states, for delivery to 235 countries.
Carry-on bags ship for $69 one way; a standard bag (50 pounds) costs $99; and a golf bag costs $89. Find more info and prices at the LugLess Web site.
How About an "Entourage" Theme?
The HBO series has ended but the “Entourage” movie will be out in June. Your guests can revel in some Hollywood-like privacy and decadence when you book Villa Aquamare
in Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands, for an event. With no noise curfew and no random leisure travelers to intrude, up to 30 guests can enjoy the three-villa beachfront compound with its 15 suites, three infinity pools, and Beach Park overlooking the Drake Channel. Swim, kayak, snorkel, lounge, and party with a discreet staff on call, including your villa host, caterers, and private chefs. Cost: $51,500 for a seven-night takeover.
Unload that Nonrefundable Hotel Booking
Roomer is an online marketplace for nonrefundable hotel reservations: Users post their paid-for rooms, Roomer verifies the reservations, and other travelers can then browse and buy. Currently Roomer is free of charge to users. According to the Web site, “Buyers are charged upfront and sellers are instantly notified of the sale via e-mail. The payment is then held securely using PayPal Adaptive Payments, where it is essentially untouchable by Roomer or anybody else. Payment is released and transferred to seller 10 days after the date of checkout.”
Bleisure: A new travel segment that includes business travelers extending their trips for a few days and meeting attendees bringing along their families
Source: John Buchanan at HotelNewsNow.com
Here’s a Sales Meeting Idea: Gladiator School
Gladiator training is the newest activity option for groups staying at the legendary Rome Cavalieri Waldorf Astoria. Hold the two-hour training with instructors from Rome’s Gladiatorial School in the hotel’s private park—or visit the school itself, where an arena allows for battle reenactments and a small museum displays antique swords and shields used by actual gladiators.
Groups from eight to 50 guests can book a class, learning ancient combat techniques and hearing stories of the life and times of the gladiators. Each student takes home a gladiator tunic, Roman sandals, belt, protective gloves, wooden training sword, and a medal declaring him (or her?) a Tiro, or first-level gladiator.
Is the Universal Translator Here?
After 20 years of living in 17 countries and learning 10 languages, Sue Reager, CEO of translation and interpretation company @International Services, set out to create a product that could save people all the effort she went through. When she teamed up with mobile tech company IntelaText, the product was born: Translate Your World
, software that translates/interprets what people say or type in real time, in 78 languages. Conferences can be “instantly localized” in dozens of languages. The software also offers subtitles or simultaneous interpretation of Web conferences/webinars, and for one-on-one conversations, such as through Skype.
Open a Guru Bar
Don’t use your keynote speaker only for the keynote. Let him or her spend time at a “guru bar,” talking with attendees informally. This is one idea for “opening up” your meeting agenda, allowing participants to learn without being stuck in seats all day. Source: Chris Cavanaugh, President, FreemanXP
Vegans Rejoice! There's a Whole Menu!
With the growing demand among meeting and incentive attendees for vegetarian and vegan dining options, Viceroy Zihuatanejo, a resort on La Ropa Beach on Mexico’s Pacific coast, now offers dedicated vegan and vegetarian menus. “With the abundance of fresh foods grown and produced in the Zihuatanejo area, we have created a full array of sensational dishes for our vegan and vegetarian guests,” said General Manager Martin Kipping (such as the vegan fajitas, pictured above).
Zihuatanejo is a low-key destination of small hotels and resorts along Zihuatanejo Bay and in the surrounding seaside hills. The Viceroy property has 46 rooms and suites in two-story, adobe-inspired casitas, along with a boardroom and meeting room for up to 40 guests. Three outdoor (covered) restaurants accommodate 80, 150, and 200 guests for events, while the outdoor Yoga Pavilion holds 150 attendees. Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo International Airport is a 15-minute drive from the resort.
Temporary Art, Lasting Lesson
Here’s a memorable event for artistically minded small groups: A half-day of making designs in the sand with beach artist extraordinaire Andres Amador
. The low-tide beaches in the San Francisco area are the usual canvas for Amador’s massive, temporary works, created in a couple of hours while the ocean ebbs. Amador and his groups decide on a design, then work to scratch it into the wet sand with rakes. Each person works on a portion of the design and when it all comes together, the result, says Amador, is greater than the sum of its parts, a message that resonates for many workplace teams. Amador takes an aerial shot of the work before the tide washes it away. The base rate for groups of 15 people is $2,500.
Turquoise is a great color for brainstorming, as it represents transitions, moving from one place to another. In brainstorming, we are creating something new from what exists.
Source: Diane Devitt, president and owner, D3Dimensions
Airstream 2 Go, a company that offers vacation experiences in the American West, has launched an event division
. The iconic Airstream trailers (with accompanying GMC Yukon Denali tow vehicles) are available for corporate retreats, teambuilding, special events, or use as a trade show booth. Hire a fleet for some truly unusual housing (or road show). Airstream 2 Go’s trailers retain the retro vibe and add modern amenities, including Egyptian cotton sheets, flat-screen LED televisions, integrated indoor/outdoor sound systems, and iPads.